Thursday, November 5, 2009

Four Days in a Parallel Universe

It wasn't a completely unplugged experience in the Eastern Tennessee mountains. Dragonstar had her tiny netbook with her and I used it to send a "we have arrived, all is well" email message to the BBPiT.

But still.

Days went by without an internet connection. How (unexpectedly) rejuvenating.

Well, just being in the mountains is (not unexpectedly) rejuvenating. And the ones to the east are particularly so.

At least, the ones whose tops are still intact.

Are we appalled by mountaintop mining? Gah. But all of our cabins had electricity and hot water and central heat and air. Where do you suppose that electricity came from? This isn't windmill country we're talking about. And now here I am, back in my cozy warm house, surrounded by my electronic this and plugged in that, all of it dependent on that coal-fired power plant up the river.

Hell's bells. My life is full of contradiction.

* * *

Anyway, in the mountains of Eastern Tennessee I met a woman who played Old Time music and shared her dulcimers and tub bass and guitar and banjo with anyone who wandered into her circle. We strummed and sang through "Skip to My Lou" and "I'll Fly Away" and "Shady Grove" and she made her case for the value of community music.

"It's not show-off music," she told me. "Bluegrass is show-off music. Everybody just waits for their turn to come around so they can show off. Community music isn't about showing off. It's about everybody playing and singing together."

She wanted to make sure we got the point.

"Bluegrass comes from the flatland up north. This is mountain music."

* * *
We were in the mountains for a gathering of unschoolers. We spent our days swapping stories, sharing meals, connecting.

I mentioned to someone before we went that attending an unschooler gathering is like slipping into a parallel universe, where everything is familiar, just a little slant.

Among our group are vegans and anarchists and farmers and lawyers and professionals and two-income families and military families and those who drive SUVs and minivans and those who drive hybrids. There are hippies and video gamers and nerf-warriors. There are blended families and nuclear families and same-sex parents and single parents. There are nurses and midwives and artists and writers and a former school teacher or two.

In other words, we look pretty much like the rest of society. And we live pretty much like the rest of society, in houses, with central heat, and televisions, and computers, and refrigerators.

We just don't do school. And what a difference that makes.

* * *

Ah, well. Today is not a day to draw conclusions. I'm still in re-entry mode. I expect I'll have stuff to say later about difference and sameness.

And anarchy and unschooling.

And music-making.

And mountaintop mining.

I always do.


  1. Glad you had a good time! :-)

    There is always that re-entry into the regular world when coming back from an unschooling gathering... I'm always sad for a little once I get home!

  2. What a delight happening upon this.
    We unschool our kids in South Africa but never meet any others doing it.
    I love the honesty about how ordinary we are, the only difference being our kids don't go to school.
    Good meeting you across the miles.

  3. I'm so happy to have found your blog. We're new to unschooling and loving every minute of it! We live in Kentucky and we're looking to connect with some like minded people.But it's hard to fit in around here if you're not Christian, so I pretty much stick to the virtual world.
    Being in KY I can totally relate to the electricity issue. Every time we drive up to Evansville we pass the coal fields and the giant power plant belching it's toxins into the air. It always makes me sick to see it, but I guess ignoring it won't make the problem go away. So we try to be as conservative as possible and look forward to the day we can convert to solar and wind.
    I look forward to reading future posts. It's nice to know we're not alone!


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